Gervase de Peyer is famous throughout the world for his brilliant concerto and recital performances. mHis distinctive personal style has done much to popularize the clarinet particularly through his unique discography. mHis Concerto recordings have won The Grand Prix du Disque, Charles Gros and The Plaque of Honour of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of America. mHis solo performances in recitals and in Chamber Music have been awarded many honours and remain highly recommended.
The Early Years until 1950
Born in London into a musical family Gervase attended Bedales School and in 1943, commenced studies for one year at the Royal College of Music under Frederick Thurston. m Then followed two years of National Service as a Marine with a return to England and to the Royal College for two years followed by visits to Paris for studies with Louis Cahuzac. m These studies were interrupted in 1949 by offers of solo tours and chamber music for The Arts Council of Great Britain and work with Sir Thomas Beecham’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Philharmonia Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan, Guido Cantelli, Otto Klemperer, Furtwangler and other distinguished maestri.
In 1950, De Peyer and three colleagues including the flutist Richard Adeney, cellist Terence Weil and violist Cecil Aronowitz formed the pioneering Melos Ensemble of London, a permanent variable ensemble of twelve players to perform larger works of chamber music, such as the Schubert and Mendelssohn octets. mThe ensemble consisted of a string quintet, a wind quintet, a harpist, and a piano. mUntil that time, such groups were formed on an ad hoc basis. mThe stability of the Melos ensemble allowed players to achieve the rapport and excellence usually achieved by established trios or string quartets. m Concerts multiplied as did award-winning recording programs, some directed by de Peyer. mThis musical group ultimately became The Melos Ensemble and would achieve an outstanding international reputation over the next twenty years.
1950-1960, Melos, Aldebrough, Lucretia,
The Cheltenham Festival brought in Sir John Barbirolli to conduct The Premiere of Alun Hoddinott’s Opus 1, the first Clarinet Concerto which Gervase de Peyer premiered. Some years later de Peyer premiered Arnold Cooke’s attractive Concerto on the same stage. Berthold Goldschmidt’s fine Concerto was written for de Peyer who premiered it and gave other performances with the composer conducting.
The Melos Ensemble also appeared with numerous programs including works including classics and also many new works. The ensemble was offered a new recording contract by EMI, the older one with L’Oiseau-Lyre had been taken over by Decca, as the new CD format took over from the long playing records. Some repertoire was duplicated but many of the new recordings are still available in various new packages and hold their place as definitive performances.
Tours by The Melos Ensemble to The US, Warsaw, Venice, Cheltenham Edinborough, Bordeaux to mention just a few were numerous
The Melos Ensemble of London quickly gained a fine reputation with important appearances in various summer festivals, and especially so, was Benjamin Britten’s ALDEBROUGH Festival. The Melos Ensemble’s own repertoire helped to broaden the festival programs with Britten’s own new works including the Chamber Operas given by The English Opera Company and The great War Requiem using many of the same Melos Ensemble personel. De Peyer for instance played the Premiere of Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream and took part in a short tour in Germany with The English Opera Company performing Britten’s earlier opera The Rape of Lucretia. Here the conductor was Joseph Krips and he was also Music Director of The L.S.O. This brought de Peyer to this Maestro’s notice resulting in an offer of the Principal Clarinet position with The London Symphony Orchestra in 1956 until 1973. As a soloist he acquired a formidable reputation throughout Britain and Europe. Gervase de Peyer toured as the chosen soloist with both Paul Hindemith and Aaron Copland conducting their own clarinet concertos.
He is playing solo recitals, chamber music and concertos in England, the US and France
His 80th Birthday Concert At the Wigmore Hall on April 2006 was sold out.
1960-2004 CMS, Melos Sinfonia,USA
Although de Peyer toured North America with the Melos Ensemble in the late fiftie’s, his US debut was in Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the LSO under Sir George Solti, during one of the LSO world tour in the early sixtie’s. From 1969 to 1972, his LSO position and the success of the Melos Ensemble of London overlapped the early years of his twenty years engagement in New York as a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center. De Peyer toured the US extensively with the C.M.S. including several performances on national TV in “Live From Lincoln Center”. He could not immediately accept straight away due to previously booked solo engagements, but he held this position for twenty years with complete freedom to accept alternative solo and chamber music engagements at any time.
Few artists have generated such interest from their contemporaries. Many compositions, frequently the result of close collaboration between soloist and composers, have been dedicated to or premiered by Gervase de Peyer such as the Arnold Cooke Concerto, Berthold Goldschmidt Concerto and Clarinet Quartet, Joseph Horovitz Concerto and Sonatina, Alun Hoddinott Concerto and Sonata no.1, William Mathias Concerto, Thea Musgrave Concerto, Edwin Roxburgh Concerto,
Michael Cave Sonata and Miklos Rosza’s last clarinet work. In April 1964 Gervase de Peyer gave the London Premiere of Francis Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata. Along with Joseph Horovitz Sonatina premiered in 1981, both these works are now peformed world wide. De Peyer also championed and premiered two works by Dr. Robert Simpson: The Clarinet Trio with William Pleeth and Peter Wallfish and The Clarinet Quintet with The Melos Ensemble of London.
Gervase de Peyer has enjoyed a long partnering with pianist Gwenneth Pryor. For over thirty years they have toured together as well as recording a large catalogue of highly acclaimed CDs which are regularly broadcast on classical radio stations across the globe.
Their many fine recordings include performances for the Chandos and Radiant Mastery labels, which are available to purchase from a large number of record stores and internet outlets.
Gervase has often endorsed Gwenneth's musical talent and praised her outstanding sensitivity as an accompanist.
"Gwenneth Pryor matches de Peyer's phrasing and delivery to perfection...a partnership of equals". - (THE TIMES, London).
Gwenneth Pryor is Australian by birth and has become well-known to British audiences through her many recitals, concerto performances and broadcasts. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium, Gwenneth Pryor won the prize for the most outstanding student of the year, and also gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where she won the Hopkinson Gold Medal. She has a distinguished discography, having recorded extensively with Gervase de Peyer (with whom she has been duo partner for over thirty years), the violinist Carlos Villa, the English Chamber, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras.
In 1992 Gervase de Peyer founded the Melos Sinfonia of Washington which offered outstanding Chamber music Concerts, in the tradition of the legendary Melos Ensemble of London, for the World Bank at the IFC auditorium in Washington, the Kennedy Center and in the Lyceum in Alexandria Virginia. Live concerts have been recorded by WETA, the Washington public radio. In 1999-2000, Gervase de Peyer is a principal artist at Paxton Hall’s Chamber Music Festival in Scotland. Also a series of recitals at the Wigmore Hall with pianist Gwenneth Pryor, The Warehouse Celebrity Concert in the South Bank and being a featured artist at the Second British Clarinet Congress of Great Britain at the Royal College of Music in London finds Gervase de Peyer in magnificent form.
The early years untill 1950
1950-1960, Melos, Aldebrough, Lucretia,
1960-2004 CMS, Melos Sinfonia, USA
2005 to 2009
Gervase de Peyer and Gwenneth Pryor